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On a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, Virgil Flowers gets a call from Lucas Davenport. A body has been found near a veterans’ memorial in Stillwater with two shots to the head and a lemon in his mouth—exactly like the body they found two weeks ago. Working the murders, Flowers becomes convinced that someone is keeping a list—with many more names on it. And when he disc On a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, Virgil Flowers gets a call from Lucas Davenport. A body has been found near a veterans’ memorial in Stillwater with two shots to the head and a lemon in his mouth—exactly like the body they found two weeks ago. Working the murders, Flowers becomes convinced that someone is keeping a list—with many more names on it. And when he discovers what connects them all, he’s almost sorry. Because if it’s true, then this whole thing leads down a lot more trails than he thought it did—and every one of them is booby-trapped. Librarian's note: as of 2021, there are 13 volumes in the author's Virgil Flowers series. The last was published in April 2021. It is in the "Prey" series but Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers share the billing - "Ocean Prey."


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On a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, Virgil Flowers gets a call from Lucas Davenport. A body has been found near a veterans’ memorial in Stillwater with two shots to the head and a lemon in his mouth—exactly like the body they found two weeks ago. Working the murders, Flowers becomes convinced that someone is keeping a list—with many more names on it. And when he disc On a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, Virgil Flowers gets a call from Lucas Davenport. A body has been found near a veterans’ memorial in Stillwater with two shots to the head and a lemon in his mouth—exactly like the body they found two weeks ago. Working the murders, Flowers becomes convinced that someone is keeping a list—with many more names on it. And when he discovers what connects them all, he’s almost sorry. Because if it’s true, then this whole thing leads down a lot more trails than he thought it did—and every one of them is booby-trapped. Librarian's note: as of 2021, there are 13 volumes in the author's Virgil Flowers series. The last was published in April 2021. It is in the "Prey" series but Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers share the billing - "Ocean Prey."

30 review for Heat Lightning

  1. 4 out of 5

    James Thane

    This is the second entry in John Sandford's series featuring Virgil Flowers, an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Virgil is an unconventional detective, who looks more like a surfer than a gifted investigator. He wears his blond hair down to his shoulders, dresses in tee shirts bearing the names of often-obscure rock bands, and rarely carries a gun. Virgil loves to fish, writes articles for outdoor magazines, and often tows his boat behind his pickup as he roams abo This is the second entry in John Sandford's series featuring Virgil Flowers, an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Virgil is an unconventional detective, who looks more like a surfer than a gifted investigator. He wears his blond hair down to his shoulders, dresses in tee shirts bearing the names of often-obscure rock bands, and rarely carries a gun. Virgil loves to fish, writes articles for outdoor magazines, and often tows his boat behind his pickup as he roams about the rural Minnesota countryside, chasing killers. He also loves women and is attracted to lots of them, many of whom return his interest. His principal method of investigating crimes involves walking around and talking to lots of people, and out of these conversations a solution usually occurs, often with deadly consequences. This case begins when a man walking his dog is killed by a sniper who is assisted by a spotter. The body is then left in front of a veterans' memorial in Stillwater, Minnesota, with a lemon stuck in the victim's mouth. Several other men are killed in the same fashion and left at other veterans' monuments around the state. Virgil discovers that the victims had connections back to the war in Vietnam, and that becomes the thread that he will follow through to the end of the chase. (This book was published in 2008, thirty-five years after the events in Vietnam, and the victims are middle-aged men.) Truth to tell, the plot is pretty far-fetched, but that doesn't really matter here. Most people read these books in order to spend a few hours in the company of "That F***in' Flowers," and it's always a joy to do so. Virgil's boss, Lucas Davenport, makes several cameo appearances here as to Shrake and Jenkins, two other members of Davenport's crew, and it's fun to see them all in action together. A very entertaining novel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    "When the going gets tough, try to unload it on that fuckin' Flowers." This philosophy is put into practice when several men are murdered and the bodies are left prominently displayed on various veteran’s memorials with lemons in their mouths. With Minneapolis about to host the Republican National Convention it’s a bad time for a bloody murder spree. Since Lucas Davenport is wrapped up with all the convention planning he puts his man Virgil Flowers on the case. Virgil finds connections that indic "When the going gets tough, try to unload it on that fuckin' Flowers." This philosophy is put into practice when several men are murdered and the bodies are left prominently displayed on various veteran’s memorials with lemons in their mouths. With Minneapolis about to host the Republican National Convention it’s a bad time for a bloody murder spree. Since Lucas Davenport is wrapped up with all the convention planning he puts his man Virgil Flowers on the case. Virgil finds connections that indicate the killings are linked to Vietnam veterans, but bodies keep dropping. I liked but didn’t love the first three Virgil spin-offs from the Prey series when I originally read them, but this one gets a big boost from a reread of it. There was a lot more action than I remembered, and Virgil’s laid back manner is severely tested in interesting ways by the increasing pressure to solve the crimes. I particularly liked how seeing Davenport in his role as Virgil’s boss makes him seem like more of a bastard than usual. The ending brings about some unexpected twists, and there was a lot more of the tense action and sense of momentum that Sandford is so good at delivering. All in all this another remarkably solid thriller that adds a lot to the on-going adventures of Flowers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Since I didn’t care for Dark Side of the Moon, it’s no surprise I didn’t like Heat Lightning. Since I like Virgil Flowers character, I will reread and reevaluate. 12 years after my first read, this comes in a solid 3 stars. Due to ending, 7 of 10 stars!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    Okay so I am officially a fan. Virgil Flowers is one of those characters you just have to love despite all his flaws and the book just revolves around him. This second book in the series Heat Lightning was not quite as exciting as the first book, Dark of the Moon, but it was still very good. The story is fast paced, a little unrealistic, but always entertaining. Virgil is his usual self, wearing his collection of T shirts and his cowboy boots, falling in love with random women and solving the mos Okay so I am officially a fan. Virgil Flowers is one of those characters you just have to love despite all his flaws and the book just revolves around him. This second book in the series Heat Lightning was not quite as exciting as the first book, Dark of the Moon, but it was still very good. The story is fast paced, a little unrealistic, but always entertaining. Virgil is his usual self, wearing his collection of T shirts and his cowboy boots, falling in love with random women and solving the most complicated crimes. Sandford's writing is educated and frequently funny - a pleasure to read. I will certainly move on to book three just as soon as I can

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Janz

    I've only read two John Sandford novels, but I'm ready to apply an adjective I've formerly reserved for only two writers, both of whom rank among my favorite writers of all time: Joe R. Lansdale and Elmore Leonard. The adjective? Sly. I'm not just talking about Sandford's wonderful leading man Virgil Flowers (affectionately--sometimes--referred to as "that f&%#in' Flowers"), but also Sandford himself. The paragraphs and pages fly by, but when you slow down and study what you're reading, you find I've only read two John Sandford novels, but I'm ready to apply an adjective I've formerly reserved for only two writers, both of whom rank among my favorite writers of all time: Joe R. Lansdale and Elmore Leonard. The adjective? Sly. I'm not just talking about Sandford's wonderful leading man Virgil Flowers (affectionately--sometimes--referred to as "that f&%#in' Flowers"), but also Sandford himself. The paragraphs and pages fly by, but when you slow down and study what you're reading, you find interesting twists of phrase, beautifully idiosyncratic riffs on standard technique. Sandford scaffolds his stories to please every reader, which is a rare and wonderful gift. In short, there's something for everyone in a John Sandford Virgil Flowers novel. I've read two of them, out of order, and loved them both. I can't wait to read more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jack Heath

    5 Stars. An entertaining romp through northern Minnesota and, just a little, the Rainy River area in Ontario, Canada. As usual that "F'n" Flowers is front-row centre in the commotion. It's a page-turner! A body is found at the Veteran's Memorial in Stillwater with a lemon in its mouth. Both the middle-aged man, and his dog, had been shot in the forehead. Flowers is yanked out of bed where he's been saying hello to a former wife, when Lucas Davenport calls telling him to get up there ASAP. There 5 Stars. An entertaining romp through northern Minnesota and, just a little, the Rainy River area in Ontario, Canada. As usual that "F'n" Flowers is front-row centre in the commotion. It's a page-turner! A body is found at the Veteran's Memorial in Stillwater with a lemon in its mouth. Both the middle-aged man, and his dog, had been shot in the forehead. Flowers is yanked out of bed where he's been saying hello to a former wife, when Lucas Davenport calls telling him to get up there ASAP. There are striking similarities to a murder a few weeks earlier. Connections to the Vietnam War become apparent and a strange incident surfaces about the theft of construction equipment followed by a horrible rape and slaughter. Has someone developed a hit list? Who are the others on such list? Along the way we bump into antiwar hero Meade Sinclair, now a local college professor, his Vietnamese daughter Mai, a few U.S. Homeland Security bullies, Sandy who is Virgil's go-to researcher, and a Governor who takes a huge political risk. Throw in two international territorial violations! Yes indeed I liked it. (July 2019)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    Of course, four stars in the brain candy category is not the same as four stars in the great literature category, but I really enjoyed the ride while reading this book. This is the second in Sandford's new Virgil Flowers series, and I liked it more than the first one, Dark of the Moon. Good plot with lots of little kinks and curves, and Sandford's trademark guy humor. Also many familiar characters carried over from the Lucas Davenport series, so I felt I was hangin' with my old friends. I especi Of course, four stars in the brain candy category is not the same as four stars in the great literature category, but I really enjoyed the ride while reading this book. This is the second in Sandford's new Virgil Flowers series, and I liked it more than the first one, Dark of the Moon. Good plot with lots of little kinks and curves, and Sandford's trademark guy humor. Also many familiar characters carried over from the Lucas Davenport series, so I felt I was hangin' with my old friends. I especially loved the way they resolved their dilemma with the Homeland Security guys near the end of the book. ;) Heh, heh.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Williams

    Another really good book by John Sandford. He really knows how to make you care and enjoy his characters. I am so enjoying all the Virgil Flowers book. Virgil figures out the "who done it" and doesen't really tell you until the story slowly unravels it. All the characters are so interesting and enjoyable. This one has both of Sandford's characters in Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport. You can't help but enjoy them. Ready to read another. Really recommend if you enjoy a really good mystery. Another really good book by John Sandford. He really knows how to make you care and enjoy his characters. I am so enjoying all the Virgil Flowers book. Virgil figures out the "who done it" and doesen't really tell you until the story slowly unravels it. All the characters are so interesting and enjoyable. This one has both of Sandford's characters in Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport. You can't help but enjoy them. Ready to read another. Really recommend if you enjoy a really good mystery.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    I really like the Virgil ("Fucking Flowers") Flowers series. I've read several of the Lucas Davenport books by Sandford and find the Flowers books to have more humor and interest. They are also perfect for listening to while putting up snow fence. I have about 800 feet of snow fence to put up along my lane. For those who don't know what that involves, it means driving fence posts into the ground with a post driver weighing about 20 lbs, unloading rolls of wooden snow fence and then attaching the I really like the Virgil ("Fucking Flowers") Flowers series. I've read several of the Lucas Davenport books by Sandford and find the Flowers books to have more humor and interest. They are also perfect for listening to while putting up snow fence. I have about 800 feet of snow fence to put up along my lane. For those who don't know what that involves, it means driving fence posts into the ground with a post driver weighing about 20 lbs, unloading rolls of wooden snow fence and then attaching the fence to the posts. It's always done when the weather is shitty (cold and windy and the field often muddy) and for someone my age probably inviting a heart attack. Takes me usually about 4-5 hours so I find a good book to listen to and take my time (I used to get done in about 3 hours.) The Flowers series, read by Eric Conger is perfect. Occasionally, I'll pause and laugh out loud. The plots are rather routine. In this one a series of murders is being committed. All the dead had been in Vietnam at the same time, although not in the military. The bodies each have a lemon duct-taped in the mouths; several had been slowly tortured. Fine, the investigation is interesting and makes sense, but it's the character of Flowers (who knows his Aeneid) and his relationship to the other cops that I really like. It's obviously not a spoiler to say Virgil gets his man/woman. The ending is a lot of fun. Sandford certainly has no love for Homeland Security (why does that name always seem to force my arm into an unnatural stiff arm salute? ) The subtext issues of this book must have John Stuart Mill rotating in his grave.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Here is yet another example of a foot-flavored experience, meaning: after years of scoffing at every Sandford book that I saw on the shelf ("good grief, how many ways can you use the word 'Prey' in a title?"), I got curious. Oh wait, peeps at Mulholland Books think he's entertaining? Maybe he's actually pretty good... The kicker was coming across a nice copy of the second Virgil Flowers book on one of those tables that you see on the sidewalks of New York. Even better, this was the day before a l Here is yet another example of a foot-flavored experience, meaning: after years of scoffing at every Sandford book that I saw on the shelf ("good grief, how many ways can you use the word 'Prey' in a title?"), I got curious. Oh wait, peeps at Mulholland Books think he's entertaining? Maybe he's actually pretty good... The kicker was coming across a nice copy of the second Virgil Flowers book on one of those tables that you see on the sidewalks of New York. Even better, this was the day before a long flight. So, alright, here's a buck and here's to trying Sandford--hypocrisy be durned! Well kids, let me tell you what my foot tastes like this time: --Chewy: a killer is on the lose and we don't know who he or she or they be!! And wow but their methods are weird. --Earthy: Call in Virgil Flowers! The man who wears faded t-shirts from 90s bands (pretty sure there was a Pixies reference in there, hell yeah) and jeans and who barrels into an investigation with fearless curiosity. --Familiar: yep, we've got some genre staples here, and yes, some of them are easy to call. Still, the plot chugs along and the ride is fun. --Spicy: there is not a lot of action here, and some of it is mundane in nature; I still got caught up in every scene the way I was intended to. The car chase, in particular, is really good, while the way Flowers handles the subsequent arrest on the reservation border is an awesome display of his meaner, badder side. The final flavor of my foot: the 'ass' that goes into 'assumption.' Let that learn me a lesson.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Davie

    Second in the Virgil Flowers detective mystery thriller series and revolving around a detective-at-large, the man who only gets the really good cases. Its timeline is a month before the Republican Convention coming to Minneapolis in Wicked Prey , 19, which puts this around 18.5 in the Lucas Davenport series. My Take And I'm still not getting why Virgil is that effin' Flowers, unless it's for that "astonishing clearance rate" he has. As for the mystery, I don't see how his cases are any more dif Second in the Virgil Flowers detective mystery thriller series and revolving around a detective-at-large, the man who only gets the really good cases. Its timeline is a month before the Republican Convention coming to Minneapolis in Wicked Prey , 19, which puts this around 18.5 in the Lucas Davenport series. My Take And I'm still not getting why Virgil is that effin' Flowers, unless it's for that "astonishing clearance rate" he has. As for the mystery, I don't see how his cases are any more difficult than the ones Lucas gets involved in. "When the going gets tough, try to unload it on that fuckin' Flowers."I do love the angle Sandford takes with Virgil's outside interest as a writer as well as the feminine interest in him. It's all a part of the lower-key humor in this series. Yes, it's similar to that in the Lucas Davenport series, but it feels a hint more subtle. "…I felt a kind of feminine orgasmic wave cross over the metro area. I said to myself, 'Daisy, girl, that fuckin' Flowers must have come back to town.'"Sanderson does do a good job of keeping us in suspense, releasing bits and pieces along the way, keeping us wondering who really is behind this series of murders. Those red herrings he throws in, well they aren't really all that "red". There's some interesting peeks under old CIA operations. Oh, brother. I don't think much of Chester either, giving up his son's name. And Homeland Security will sell you out in a New York minute, although I do think the criminals deserved punishment. There's a quick rewrap up of characters and "loose threads" at the end. I loved the one about the New York Times. Go Virgil! The Story Flowers may have been around the block a few times, but he can still be surprised. Especially when Lucas calls about a body in Stillwater, two shots to the head, found near a veterans' memorial. And the victim has a lemon in his mouth. Exactly like the body they found last week. The more Flowers works the murders, the more convinced he is that someone's keeping a list, and that the list could have a lot more names on it. If he could only find out what connects them all . . . and then he does, and he's almost sorry he did. Because if it's true, then this whole thing leads down a lot more trails than he thought and every one of them is booby-trapped. The Characters Detective Virgil Flowers is the son of an old-school Lutheran minister whose wife, Virgil's mother, teaches engineering. He's one of Lucas Davenport's men, a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension cop whose true love is writing articles on hunting and fishing with a home base in Mankato. Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in Minneapolis Lucas Davenport is in charge. Weather is Lucas' surgeon wife. Letty is their adopted daughter and Sam is their toddler. Sloan is a friend, a cop who retired, and opened a bar. Elle is a childhood friend of Lucas', a psychologist and a nun. Micky Andreno, a retired patrol lieutenant from Mortal Prey , 13, will enjoy helping out. Shrake and Jenkins are thugs, er, a couple of Lucas' operatives along with Del Capslock (his wife is pregnant), Dan Shaver, Dan Jackson is good with a camera, and Benson. Carol is Lucas' secretary; Sandy is his ace part-time researcher. Rose Marie Roux is the state commissioner of public safety and Lucas' boss. Neil Mitford is the governor's personal weasel. The Bemidji office BCA agent Larry MacDonald works with the Mounties all the time. Charles Whiting is the agent-in-charge. Ron Mapes and Paul Queenen are more agents. Harold Gomez is an agent with the DEA and figures he owes Virgil after events in Dark of the Moon , 1. Homeland Security James K. Wright and Morris Arenson are incredibly arrogant agents who make it quite clear that American citizens no longer have the rights we thought we did. St. Paul PD Sergeant Larry Waters knows Virgil. Detective Tim Hayes has been there a long time. Minneapolis PD Dave Nelson and Randy wreck the op. Captain Roark took charge of the Warren scene. Stillwater PD Tom Mattson is the chief who wants BCA help. Jim Brandt is assistant chief. Washington County Darryl Cunningham is a Washington County chief deputy. Deputy Sheriff Roger Polk is up in Lake Elmo. Grand Rapids PD Josh Anderson. Highway Patrol Highway Patrol Sergeant Dave Marshall is part of the team who found David Ross, Wigge's bodyguard. Jean Prestel is a schoolteacher with plans to marry David. Doug Wayne is a pilot for the highway patrol. Kate is another pilot. Tom Hunt is a state trooper. Beltrami County Chief Deputy Harry Smith figures Bunton's fear may be real. Jasmine "Jimmy" Carter is the public defender in Beltrami County. Red Lake is… …an independent Minnesota reservation with its own law enforcement system. Louis Jarlait, Rudy Bunch, and Olen Grey are part of the tribal PD. Edna Reese is Ray's mother. Tom Broad was out driving. Cliff Bear saw an Apache. Don Worth is the director at the vet center. Chuck Grogan is a volunteer coordinator who owns Perfect Garage Doors and Fireplaces. Sins of omission are coming home to roost for Bobby Sanderson, a building inspector and carpenter — and his German shepherd, Mike — whose girlfriend, Sally Owen, will be hurt. Chuck Utecht whose wife, Marilyn, seems unaffected, pulled it together back then. Chester Utecht was his father who sells heavy equipment. He was the first. Ray Bunton is part Chippewa from Red lake. Carl Bunton is Ray's step-uncle, laid off by Northwest Airlines and working as a convenience store clerk. John "R-A" Wigge is an ex-St. Paul cop, dirty, who is now vice-president of a high-end private security agency, Paladin, owned by Ralph Warren, a criminal sociopath about whom a lot of questions arise. Richard Homewood is a real estate consultant who testified against Warren. Carl Knox is organized crime and runs Knox Equipment; his oldest daughter, Shirley, will get involved with Shrake. Another daughter, Patricia Ann Knox-Miller, has a cabin up north. Sal and Sean Raines are part of Knox's security. Professor Mead Sinclair is doing research on long-term aftereffects of the Vietnam War. Mai is his half-Vietnamese daughter, a dancer in Madison, Wisconsin. Professor Manfred Lutz teaches at Georgetown University with some interesting insight into Sinclair. Media Linda Bennett is with KSTP. Daisy Jones is quite seductive. Janey Small was Virgil's second wife, between first and third. Jimmy Stryker is the Stark County sheriff ( Dark of the Moon ). Don is a young hitchhiker. Dave Root is the alcoholic owner of the RootyToot Resort on Candi Lake. Loren "El" Conrad is married to a big shot at Pillsbury; she and her daughter do a lot of fishing. Todd Barry is with the New York Times. Lark is an opium addict Virgil knows. Hong Kong Howard Hawn is with the American embassy. Harold Chen is with the Hong Kong Police Force. The Liberty Patrol is… …a group of bikers who provide security for funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq. Darrell Johnson is its president. Bill Schmidt turns out to be the impersonator. Nguyen Van Tai and Phem are with Bennu Consultants from Canada, working with Larson International. Hao Nguyen is the resident for the intelligence service at the Vietnamese embassy in Ottawa. It's a tight group of three: the scout with professional skill in reconnaissance and interrogation who wants to improve his photographic skill, the shooter, and the coordinator, Hoa, whose Grandfather wants revenge. The Cover and Title The cover is that deep, dark blue of nighttime on a lonely road. A major lightning strike illuminates the landscape, its tip touching on a car at the top of the hill, a naked row of telephone poles lining the right side of the straight. The title is in a three-dimensional and embossed white with yellow while the author's name is large on top in the same 3-D effect in bright yellow with black. The title is at the end, Heat Lightning that may well hit between Virgil and Sandy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I enjoyed this a lot, but as a guilty pleasure I can’t quite stretch it to 4 stars. Our hero with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Virgil Flowers, is wonderfully likeable, genuinely happiest when he can fish or write about fishing, is prone to fall in love a lot, loves dancing, and always wears a t-shirts featuring old rock bands. He harnesses his charm and affability to solve his cases by drawing clues out of conversations. Here is case is a growing set of serial murders of elderl I enjoyed this a lot, but as a guilty pleasure I can’t quite stretch it to 4 stars. Our hero with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Virgil Flowers, is wonderfully likeable, genuinely happiest when he can fish or write about fishing, is prone to fall in love a lot, loves dancing, and always wears a t-shirts featuring old rock bands. He harnesses his charm and affability to solve his cases by drawing clues out of conversations. Here is case is a growing set of serial murders of elderly men, apparently professional hits, with the bodies all placed on a veterans memorial. The common link among the first victims appears to point to past military or business experience in Vietnam. Though a poor marksman, his drive for justice makes him carry bravely on when situations get dangerous and violent. Lots of exciting twists and turns with a lot of lively and often humorous dialogue in the quiet times. On the down side, his failures to stop a lot of the killings is a bit frustrating, and the victims don’t evoke much empathy in the reader. In compensation, the bad guy turns out to be very interesting indeed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Quenya

    It felt good to be back in Virgil’s world. The solution in this story was fairly intuitive for the reader to pick up on but the author kept interested as we experienced Virgil reaching the same conclusions. I also liked a lot of the side characters in the story. The Red Lake police guys, Raines and some of the other supporting characters were good. What I liked the most about the book was that the mystery and story setting was so different from the first one but yet I felt Virgil was still true t It felt good to be back in Virgil’s world. The solution in this story was fairly intuitive for the reader to pick up on but the author kept interested as we experienced Virgil reaching the same conclusions. I also liked a lot of the side characters in the story. The Red Lake police guys, Raines and some of the other supporting characters were good. What I liked the most about the book was that the mystery and story setting was so different from the first one but yet I felt Virgil was still true to the character introduced in the first book. His chemistry with the Lucas, Sally and the other characters came through really well. He is just a likable guy. My biggest complaint is that this story does involve quite a bit of Lucas and I wasn’t sure if I liked it or if I felt like Lucas was intruding into my Virgil Flowers world. The other complaint was the story lingered on well after the climax and even though I found it interesting it seemed to be an add-on versus an integral part of the story. Eric Conger is a great narrator for me. I always feel part of the story and not like someone is just a reading a story to me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Eh.. this one was okay. Some weird murder going on that connected to those from Vietnam war.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nette

    How does John Sandford crank out so many books (is this his second or third this year?) and stay so consistently good? Lucas "Prey" Davenport is cool, but I'm loving this new Virgil Flowers series, too. A cop with surfer hair, obscure rock t-shirts, and a sideline writing fishing articles? Awesome. This book had a little to much DRIVING AROUND for my taste -- I find chase scenes in books really dull -- but the plot was intriguing and twisty. How does John Sandford crank out so many books (is this his second or third this year?) and stay so consistently good? Lucas "Prey" Davenport is cool, but I'm loving this new Virgil Flowers series, too. A cop with surfer hair, obscure rock t-shirts, and a sideline writing fishing articles? Awesome. This book had a little to much DRIVING AROUND for my taste -- I find chase scenes in books really dull -- but the plot was intriguing and twisty.

  16. 5 out of 5

    William

    Short reviews of wonderful Virgil, sorry. This was excellent, complex, interesting characters. Great action. Note: Do yourself a favour and listen to the songs Virgil mentions throughout the series

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I don't like these quite as much as the Prey series, but they're certainly pretty good. I think part of it is that I don't care for Conger's narrating quite as much as Ferrone's, but it's pretty minor. Most of all, the plot was a bit far out. The story was well done within that framework, though. It made some salient points - the bartering between security agencies that can get out of hand, old injuries that can come back to haunt, & corruption in general. Through it all, Flowers is a pretty grea I don't like these quite as much as the Prey series, but they're certainly pretty good. I think part of it is that I don't care for Conger's narrating quite as much as Ferrone's, but it's pretty minor. Most of all, the plot was a bit far out. The story was well done within that framework, though. It made some salient points - the bartering between security agencies that can get out of hand, old injuries that can come back to haunt, & corruption in general. Through it all, Flowers is a pretty great character with some backup from Shrake et al. Lucas' management style is the finest kind & it means that besides a few short references & shared characters, there isn't really much room for spoilers between the series which is great. I'm going to still try to read them in order, but I don't know when I'll get the 3d book of this series so I'm skipping it for now.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Digital audiobook narrated by Eric Conger. From the book jacket Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers is only in his late thirties, but he’s been around the block a few times, and he doesn’t think much can surprise him anymore. He’s wrong. It’s a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, and Flowers is in bed with one of his ex-wives when the phone rings. It’s Lucas Davenport. There’s a body in Stillwater, two shots to the head, found near a veterans’ memorial. And the Digital audiobook narrated by Eric Conger. From the book jacket Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers is only in his late thirties, but he’s been around the block a few times, and he doesn’t think much can surprise him anymore. He’s wrong. It’s a hot, humid summer night in Minnesota, and Flowers is in bed with one of his ex-wives when the phone rings. It’s Lucas Davenport. There’s a body in Stillwater, two shots to the head, found near a veterans’ memorial. And the victim has a lemon in his mouth. My Reactions: This is the second book in the Virgil Flowers series, which is a spin-off of Sandford’s extremely popular Lucas Davenport series. I haven’t read the first book in the series, but I don’t think I was missing much by jumping in on book number two. In his trademark style, Sandford gives us plenty of twists and turns in the plot, a few red herrings, and some subtle clues that are easy to miss. Flowers is an extremely likeable character – and the ladies certainly like him (witness his bedding one of his ex-wives), but he’s no pushover. He’s also smart, decisive, deliberate, and resourceful. I love the dialogue; Sandford definitely has a gift for writing believable back-and-forth exchanges. The action is fast and furious, and while I figured out the culprit some time before Flowers did, the ending is still satisfying for the thriller/mystery genre. Eric Conger does a fine job narrating the audiobook. He keeps the pace up and the action moving forward.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    Breaking News: Huge John Sandford Fan Says John Sandford Book Is Good. Seriously though, even though this one was a little bit of a reach in the plausibility department it’s really hard not to like Virgil and any book with Shrake and Jenkins is an automatic win.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    To begin with, I think it is only appropriate that I admit to being a fairly avid reader of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport “Prey” series. A pretty big fan to be honest (even with the recent less than stellar outings). However, I have not had the pleasure of reading his second series focusing on the ever-popular, Virgil Flowers. Now, I am turning my attention to reading his series. First, how do I describe our fictional her, Virgil Flowers? He is in his late thirties, tall, lean, and long haired To begin with, I think it is only appropriate that I admit to being a fairly avid reader of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport “Prey” series. A pretty big fan to be honest (even with the recent less than stellar outings). However, I have not had the pleasure of reading his second series focusing on the ever-popular, Virgil Flowers. Now, I am turning my attention to reading his series. First, how do I describe our fictional her, Virgil Flowers? He is in his late thirties, tall, lean, and long haired for law enforcement. He’s been married and divorced three times, but still loves and adores the ladies. He’s an outdoorsman, photographer, and writer in his spare time. Most importantly, his preferred dress style is jeans and rock-and-roll band -shirts. Virgil also works as an investigator for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, being recruited by Lucas Davenport and reporting directly to him. His second novel, “Heat Lightning” begins with Flowers gets a call from his boss, Lucas Davenport, while he is spending some quality time with one of his ex-wives. A dead body has been left at a veterans’ memorial in Stillwater, Minnesota. The victim victim took two shots to the head and had a lemon lodged in his mouth. Normally that would seem strange. However, it’s not, because this is not the first victim with these characteristics for Flowers. Virgil is already investigating another murder from two weeks ago in which another body was discovered with the same two head shots and a lemon in his mouth. Because the Republican National Convention is coming to Minneapolis shortly, Davenport needs a man that will get things done, and Virgil is that man. With two victims, Flowers is worried that there are more victims at risk. He knows the killings were performed by professionals in an almost militaristic style, and he is starting to worry that there is a list that the killers are working from. Unfortunately, Virgil is getting nowhere in tracking down who else could be being hunted because no one who knew or worked with the victims is talking. Before he knows it, Flowers finds himself mixed up in all kinds of bizarre intrigue, including a troubled history and secrets from the closing of the Vietnam war, potential CIA connections, Korean spies, and political pressure from several sources pushing down on the case. And the good news is… That’s when Flowers does his best thinking and most productive work… Two books into this series, I am liking Virgil more and more. He is easy to relate to and cheer for. He is a great balance to Davenport’s more serious attitude and moralistic drama. Virgil is more laid back, more thoughtful is exploring his philosophical beliefs, and more humane. He is not perfect and makes mistakes throughout his investigative work. He falls easily for the women he interacts with, but never treats them with anything less than dignity, respect, and even a bit of worshipful awe. There are a lot of things to like about him and his character’s potential at this point and for the future. As for the plot and mystery itself, I started off enjoying it, but found it getting a bit discombobulated during the middle portion of the book and choppy throughout the rest. I enjoyed the traditional mystery laid out in the first book better than this one, because at times there was a lot of running around and chasing in this book, but it didn’t always feel like it was the moving the plot forward as effectively. One thing that I liked though, was this book brought in and made more use of the supporting characters like Shrake, Jenkins, Del, Sandy (the flirty researcher) and of course, Lucas. Although the Flowers series is co-written with a small group of his friends, one thing that Sandford successfully does well (most of the time) in this series is uses what I call the “James Patterson hybrid” movie script style of writing to keep moving things forward in a staccato and suspenseful delivery. Although it felt choppy at times, this approach also helped move the story forward when the plot was getting messy and confusing, so it never fully stalled out and kept the reader’s interest going. Overall, this was an enjoyable and suspenseful read. Not as good in my opinion as the first book in the series, but it stood up okay on its own. Four-stars for Virgil Flowers plus two-stars for the plotting and story = a three-star entertaining and escapist read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Phil Wheeler

    This is an entertaining book but there is one scene in the book that is unintentionally hilariously funny. I am not being critical of the book as a whole but this is too funny not to mention. The author spends a great deal of time during the story trying to convince you that our hero Virgil Flowers is this macho cool guy which is fine because most mystery writers do that. It is just part of the genre. Sanford makes a big deal out of the fact Virgil wears an earring, has long blond hair, is a tou This is an entertaining book but there is one scene in the book that is unintentionally hilariously funny. I am not being critical of the book as a whole but this is too funny not to mention. The author spends a great deal of time during the story trying to convince you that our hero Virgil Flowers is this macho cool guy which is fine because most mystery writers do that. It is just part of the genre. Sanford makes a big deal out of the fact Virgil wears an earring, has long blond hair, is a tough guy and how he picks out what Heavy Rock Metal Band T-Shirt he is going to wear each day. But, there is one scene that comically undermines this persona. During a hard days work, Virgil suddenly realizes he hasn't eaten all day and he is starving so he pulls into some diner. He takes a quick look at the menu and orders---wait for it------- an apple salad and a piece of carrot cake! Can't all us manly macho guys relate to being hungry and thinking, "what I could use now is a hearty apple salad and a chunk of carrot cake?" The scene continues as he gets interrupted during his hearty meal with a phone call. After the phone call he realizes he has to get going quickly so the author says he "wolfs down the rest of his carrot cake". I don't think it is possible to wolf down a piece of carrot cake not matter how macho you are. My wife and I were listening to this book on CD while on a long road trip and when I heard this scene I had to turn off the player and pull over to the side of the road I was laughing so hard. John Stanford does tell an entertaining story though and I will probably read more of his books but it will be a while before I can listen to another Virgil Flowers(maybe there is more to his name than I realized) mystery with a straight face.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Utterly forgettable. And I mean that. Sincerely. Apparently I read this book in 2009 and didn't remember a damn thing about it so I mistakenly re-read it over the recent Christmas holiday. Here is the sum total of what I got from both reads: 1. The Vietnam War...something-something about American greed 2. Guys were murdered many years post-war 3. Virgil Flowers drove all around Minnesota looking for the killers 4. Minnesota is quite damn large so Flowers drove around in almost every damn chapter 5. L Utterly forgettable. And I mean that. Sincerely. Apparently I read this book in 2009 and didn't remember a damn thing about it so I mistakenly re-read it over the recent Christmas holiday. Here is the sum total of what I got from both reads: 1. The Vietnam War...something-something about American greed 2. Guys were murdered many years post-war 3. Virgil Flowers drove all around Minnesota looking for the killers 4. Minnesota is quite damn large so Flowers drove around in almost every damn chapter 5. Lastly, Minnesota has a lot of bugs in the summer Don't make my mistake and read it twice. In fact, don't even read it once.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marty Fried

    I'm glad I discovered this series. It's my favorite type of casual reading - a good plot, interesting characters and dialog, and a bit of scattered humor to keep from taking it too seriously. The story here is complex and interesting. I had no idea what was going on until it was revealed near the end, where we find that more or less nobody is what they seem to be. I like that the lines are not so sharp between good and evil. Virgil, the cop, doesn't like using a gun, wears t-shirts from obscure ba I'm glad I discovered this series. It's my favorite type of casual reading - a good plot, interesting characters and dialog, and a bit of scattered humor to keep from taking it too seriously. The story here is complex and interesting. I had no idea what was going on until it was revealed near the end, where we find that more or less nobody is what they seem to be. I like that the lines are not so sharp between good and evil. Virgil, the cop, doesn't like using a gun, wears t-shirts from obscure bands, and doesn't draw such sharp lines between right and wrong, legal and illegal, etc, as some cops. He's more interested in justice, not punishing people for mistakes or petty crimes, many of which he knows about personally. He never really wanted to be a cop. His degree was in environmental science, but there's not much demand for that. He likes to write nature articles for magazines, he sometimes toes a fishing boat behind his government-supplied vehicle, to the consternation of his boss, and he'd mostly rather be fishing (catch and release, mostly). His hair is a bit longer than most cops, and he's basically pretty laid back, although his success rate is second to none in solving crimes. It's hard to feel any animosity against most of the criminals. Even the murderers may not seem so bad in many ways; sometimes, their intentions are noble, but they make mistakes and hey, they murder people, which is not a good thing. The stories remind me a bit of the TV series Justified, which I liked a lot, except the bad guys in this series are not as dumb as some of the ones in Justified, and it's not as humorous.

  24. 5 out of 5

    DJ

    This is the second book by John Sandford to feature Virgil (f***ing) Flowers, a state investigator that works for super cop Lucas Davenport. Davenport is the cop featured in Sandford's very real, character driven, Prey series. Lucas does show up in these books, but he is a minor character. Heat Lightning was a little too predictable and uneventful than the first Virgil Flowers book Dark of the Moon but still very entertaining. I guess what I have always liked about Sandford's Prey series, and i This is the second book by John Sandford to feature Virgil (f***ing) Flowers, a state investigator that works for super cop Lucas Davenport. Davenport is the cop featured in Sandford's very real, character driven, Prey series. Lucas does show up in these books, but he is a minor character. Heat Lightning was a little too predictable and uneventful than the first Virgil Flowers book Dark of the Moon but still very entertaining. I guess what I have always liked about Sandford's Prey series, and in the first Virgil Flowers book is the challenge of trying to figure out who the criminal was before Lucas Davenport. In Heat Lightning, Sandford reveals the criminal about half way through, and the latter part of the book is all about the apprehension. With that being said though, Sandford still keeps it interesting with his portrayal of some really great characters against the backdrop of the beautiful upper Midwest. If you liked any of the Prey series, you'll like Heat Lightning.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael Adamchuk

    Virgil Flowers, working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is on the case of two similar murders, shots to the head and a lemon stuck in the mouth. The latest body is found near a veteran's memorial so Flowers seeks vets to talk to. One thing leads to another and Flowers links the murders to the theft of heavy equipment from Viet Nam before it's fall. Not many redeeming characters in this one. Virgil Flowers, working for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is on the case of two similar murders, shots to the head and a lemon stuck in the mouth. The latest body is found near a veteran's memorial so Flowers seeks vets to talk to. One thing leads to another and Flowers links the murders to the theft of heavy equipment from Viet Nam before it's fall. Not many redeeming characters in this one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tom S

    Another solid Virgil Flowers story from Sandford. Always a fun read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    The Face of Your Father

    'Heat Lightning' is the second novel in the Virgil Flowers series. A killer is leaving a mysterious calling card in the mouths of the victims. Virgil Flowers of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension finds himself thrown into a murder investigation that spans beyond the country's borders. John Sandford has created the perfect protagonist. Virgil Flowers is a cop who has a passion for writing. He is not above sporting a Death Cab for Cutie tshirt at a crime scene. His calm demeanor is the perfect coun 'Heat Lightning' is the second novel in the Virgil Flowers series. A killer is leaving a mysterious calling card in the mouths of the victims. Virgil Flowers of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension finds himself thrown into a murder investigation that spans beyond the country's borders. John Sandford has created the perfect protagonist. Virgil Flowers is a cop who has a passion for writing. He is not above sporting a Death Cab for Cutie tshirt at a crime scene. His calm demeanor is the perfect counter balance to the violent life his job leads. The son of a preacher, Virgil Flowers thinks often of God, especially when he is forced to take a life. 'Heat Lightning' possesses the usual Sandford thrills and ultraviolet scenes of gunfire and gore. The pages fly faster than your fingers can move, the mystery is genuine, the suspense builds, guns are fired and blood is spilled. Sandford doesn't write just crime fiction, it's violent poetry. The absolute master of summer reads. 4/5

  28. 5 out of 5

    William

    I think that Sandford is playing us with this Virgil Flowers character. Unlike Davenport, Flowers doesn't concentrate on anything but women and fishing. I think that Sandford is playing us with this Virgil Flowers character. Unlike Davenport, Flowers doesn't concentrate on anything but women and fishing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    Virgil Flowers is fast becoming my favorite, Nevis smart, funny and a little vunerable. That F###ing Flowers is the man that Lucas calls when there is a tough case to solve, and solve it he does with his usual flare, and out of the box wardrobe. Sandford is an amazing story teller these books are really hard to put down.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    Though this book had a fairly outlandish plot I did enjoy it more than the first book in the series. I liked that the BCA crew had larger roles in this book, the action was quite well done, and thought the narration by Eric Conger was better.

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